What I Learned My First Month in California
GUYS. I live where there are palm trees.
I literally can't get over it; it is so exciting to live among sunshine and palm trees! I feel so grateful every time I look up and see those fronds - can't you just tell my excitement from these pictures!?
We're living in a modern day Gold Rush. Seemingly all of my friends have packed up their lives and headed out on the proverbial Oregon Trail in search of a new life on the west coast, and we decided to join them and see what all the hype was about. Z and I had both visited California separately, and then we visited in November of last year to ensure we liked San Francisco. Now that we're living here, though, we pick up on so much more nuances and minute cultural differences.
1. California isn't all sunshine and palm trees.
Sure, we drove through the Mojave Desert taking in the sights of the Joshua Trees, and stopped in SoCal where the palm trees sway. In San Francisco, a few streets have some singular palm trees but for the most part, once you get into Northern California it's all about the forest-y trees. In a similar vain, I've been in San Francisco a month and have seen the sun only a handful of times! These parts seem to be foggy or rainy most of the time, especially where it gets flush with hills and whatnot.
2. Laid Back Style is Where Its At
My first week at my new "business casual" job, as the HR woman had promised me, I was severely over dressed. This wasn't my first business casual work experience, and I wanted to dress to impress my first couple of weeks and since I had to pack in advance there was no room for making changes. Skirts, cardigans, and heels had me looking very out of place among the lax commuters and office mates who opted for jeans or leggings and some sort of ankle boot (always). San Francisco, especially, seems to be influenced by it's grunge cousin to the north in that every girl seems to own a pair of Doc Martens and classic vans (to pair with the perfect shearling denim jacket). Even while we visited Southern California, it was all about the "winter" chic and feigning cold so you can wear Uggs in casual comfort. Now that I've been here for a bit, it's time to up the wardrobe ante, but also stay true to myself... it's time to go BOOTIE SHOPPING!
3. The People are Friendly
Maybe it's the fact that it's west of the congested cities of the East Coast, where the weather can turn you into a cold, hard B, but Californians seem to be so friendly. Our new neighbors have offered us parking spots in a time of need, watched our Amazon packages to ensure they aren't stolen, and of course, can we talk about the wonderfully friendly and welcoming creative scene I've been enjoying?
4. It Feels Like a Separate Country
Upon driving into California, much like if you were to drive across the border to another country, you are stopped by a "border control" who checks your car for plants, fruits, and vegetables. CA has a very stable ecosystem and they need to maintain that.
Additionally, the rules are incredibly different here. You need to take a whole new driving test when you switch to a California license, because the rules of the road are different. You're allowed to drink openly, which makes picnicing in the park that much more fun (how European!) and well trained dogs aren't required to be on leashes and are allowed in most establishments. Not to mention the legality of marijuana here. It truly is an oasis within the states.
5. It's not as expensive as you'd think
Sure, the rent is exorbitantly high, but I promise you the cost of everything else evens it out. I've found that produce especially is much cheaper in California, and wine as well! There's a grocery shop Z and I have been going to that we've gotten two grocery bags stuffed with fresh fruit, avocados, pasta, dog and cat food, and a bottle of wine for under $30. Bars are cheaper as well, at least for us coming from DC; we constantly are finding $5 beers and wines. When all is said and done, I like to think California is actually CHEAPER than our life in DC!
So there you have it! 5 things I've learned in my first month in this new city. Have you moved anywhere new and been struck with a bit of "culture shock"? Have you been to California and experienced any of this? Let me know!